Friday, October 29, 2010

Birthday girl

My girl, today is her day. On her AKC papers, she's Cheyenne's Ferguson Blue. It was all so formal in the beginning. These days she's Cheyenne. Or Little Brown Dog. Or LBD. Or Shiny. Or Shiny Hiney. Or Tiny. Or Tinykins. Or Cheyenna Bananna Monster (don't ask). Or Sugar Butt. Or Tine-Tines. Or Wooby Cat. Or Woobs Woobs. Or, plain old Dork.

She has gained so many nicknames over our years together; there's just something about her that begs for them.  Today, she's going to be called the Birthday Girl because today is her 10th birthday!  Honestly, I cannot imagine the past ten years without her. She's been my laughter, my rock, my responsibility, my joy, my frustration, my tickle, my pillow, my amusement, my travel buddy and my morning walking partner. She is my friend and I am hers. She and I, we're two in a row, and I will forever be thankful for the perfect gift that she continues to be.   

Cheyenne Collage III

Happy birthday, Pussy Cat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This morning, I brought my camera along on my morning walk with Cheyenne, and I discovered many things that made me happy.

These pretty flowers,

The base of what was once a very big tree,


A bit of thought-provoking graffiti,


Cute Halloween porch decorations,


A bit of silliness in a beautiful brown package,


A scary rocking chair,


Front porch patriotism,


And two beautiful trees,


There is so much to discover when I'm walking, so many little things to make me smile.  These were just a few I wanted to share.  I hope they made you smile too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The number 20

Twenty things I treasure this time of year (in no particular order):

1.  Porch decorations of pumpkins and other gourds, scarecrows
2.  Spooky Halloween decorations of ghosts and fake spider webs
2.  Slow and glowing sunsets that make the sky look like melting ice cream
3.  The air-conditioning not kicking on all night
4.  Pulling out the blankets from the linen closet
5.  Considering and planning the Thanksgiving meal
6.  Thinking of Christmas gift ideas for friends and family
7.  The scent of cinnamon, oranges and cloves
8.  Watching football with friends
9.  Evening walks with Cheyenne, observing the glowing light in the windows of neigbhoring homes
10. Boots
11. Perhaps not chilly, but definitely cool air mornings
12. Long-sleeve, thick cotton T-shirts
13. Making soup
14. Patio dining
15. Falling leaves
16. Changing out the mantle decorations
17. Just about everyone saying, Can you believe it's already October?
18. Pulling out sweaters from storage bins
19. Putting summer clothes into storage bins
20. Wreaths

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Really, it's just practice until I can break out the Christmas decorations.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beauty and love

Yesterday I sat at a table with some amazing women, beautiful life-long friends, wonderful family. I shared the head of the table with a woman I have know for all my life, a woman who considers me her angel.  Funny thing, I consider her to be mine.


Friday, October 15, 2010


Yesterday I needed to pick up a chair for someone, from a place very close to the beach.  It just might have been the most fun errand I've ever run. 





Thursday, October 14, 2010

The dining room

On Tuesday, I finally finished decorating the dining room in my new house. I wasn't at all sure how to decorate the large wall where I had placed the buffet and two side chairs, but I knew I wanted it to be with pieces that have been in my family, that would give me a connection to the past.

Which meant that I decided not to decorate this room with the 792,867 enlarged and framed photos I have of Cheyenne.  And it also meant that the wall was bare until the idea came to me.


The four prints (St. Albans Grande Steeplechase, Plates 1 through 4) belonged to my maternal Grandmother.  They are hand-colored etchings from James Pollard, a British painter from the early 1800s who focused on equestrian events.  Years and years ago, I discovered these prints while rummaging through a hall closet in my parents' house.  Instantly I fell in love with them.  Where did these come from? My mother answered that they had belonged to her mother.  Of course I had the nerve to ask if I could have them (because what good were they in the closet?).  Of course she said No.  As she looked at them, she fondly remembered growing up with them in her house.  While I was salivating over them, she decided that she wanted to get them re-framed and hang them in her dining room.  And then she asked if I wanted to go with her and help her choose the frames.  I jumped at the opportunity, and then she said, because one day, these will be yours.

The plates to the left and right of the prints are from my parents' formal china, gifted to them for their marriage. There are 24 of each dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, coffee cup and saucer. It's an exhaustive and lovely collection. We only used this china for holidays and special occasions, so I have a lifetime of special memories associated with these plates. I think the pattern is too lovely, however, to keep hidden in a cabinet so I decided early Tuesday morning that I was going to hang them so that I could see them every day and be reminded of special family meals through the years. 

Putting these prints and plates into my dining room makes the room a bit more formal than my usual decorating taste but I do like the results very much. And I feel that way because the room gently says, we were here, we are part of you. 


Taken from another angle, the corner china cabinet to the right is the first good piece of furniture my mother bought with her own money (as she used to say).  For that reason and many more, it's such a special piece to me and I love having it in my house. 

Having my dining room echo my grandmother, my mother, and my parents' marriage?  It's part of what makes this new house a home for me.

So, another room complete.  Slowly but surely, this place is coming together.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Retaliation found in the trash

Apparently, she didn't like being referred to as Fall decoration.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


One of my favorite things about the Fall? I can decorate with Cheyenne!


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The thread that pulls my fabric back

It was a year ago today, by the date, that I heard the news, that I stood in the room, sat on the bed, listened to the Doctor in the white coat, trying to escape his words and his misting eyes by focusing on the emptiness of the starched white cotton he wore, but hearing his voice all the same. I held my friend tight as she heard the news about the love of her life. There's nothing else we can do.  That's what we heard, that's what we were told. And that news? It's the worse you can hear.  It's when your doctor tells you that you can no longer try conventional or alternative medicine, there are no more trials for which you are a candidate, can no longer delay making end-of-life plans, can no longer hope for a different outcome.


The doctors told us that day that she might live for two weeks. I couldn't walk, couldn't sleep or eat, but she, she marched on, and lived much more beyond that. That's who she was.  She's no longer here and it's not because she lost the battle that Ovarian Cancer raged against her. Oh no, she did not lose the fight. What she did was choose. 

Yes I understand that every life must end
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go

She chose faith and grace. She chose to take her remaining days and make them her own.  She chose to live until her life left her.  I still don't know, can't imagine even though I witnessed, the grace and strength she lived, she gave.  I am still in awe and still learning from what I experienced.

I miss her, so very much.  I miss the hope, the fight, and even the resignation.  I miss the quiet moments, scrambling a single egg for her, reading to her, and the shopping moments in search of the right apple juice or finding something perfect for her to wear at Thanksgiving dinner.  I miss rubbing her legs and running my fingers through her soft hair.  I miss her rolling her eyes when I would ask her if she was doing okay. 

I miss her needing me and I miss my giving to her.

I miss all the years before we ever knew.

I miss the warm November day when her hospice bed arrived and we decided to leave the mattress outside for the afternoon, and she placed her frail body on the soft bedding and absorbed the sun behind her Chanel sunglasses, and smiled her smile as we sat beside her delighting in her presence in the unseasonal warmth.

I wonder everyday as I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take

I miss the chilly December walks we would take her on, dressed in her mink coat and mittens, in her wheelchair, along the neighborhood streets we would slowly and peacefully go.  I miss the way that coat hung on her shoulders, those gloves hugged her fingers, that lipsticked smile so very much her own peaking through the wraps. 

Stay with me
Let’s just breathe

A year ago, I wrote the words below.  I wrote them in my reaction to the news, in my reaction to what my best friend had just heard about the love of her life.  I had no idea what was ahead but I understood that there would be a finishing line, one we couldn't wrestle or control, one we couldn't change, but one I knew in which we would stand together and do every single thing we could possibly do to make it peaceful for her

And we did.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
October 6, 2009

There are times when nothing in you arsenal prepares you, times when your experiences, your lessons, your favorite sentence in your favorite book, your beating heart, your grieving heart, your epiphanies learned from your private moments, your incessantly pulsing blood, your empty but soul-searching time spent in nothingness while driving from here to there, your fist raised in the air, your favorite photograph or most delicate ornament on the Christmas tree; none of it can prepare you for what you hear when you hear the words. When the immediacy of knowledge spikes your brain and shreds your soul, strangles your breath and steals your hopes. There are no experiences you've painted your name on, nor any that have branded their name on you, none at all that will step up and console you. None that will say to you, it will be okay.

It won't be okay. Life will go on, but it won't be okay. And this? Knowing this? This will be the secret and most regrettable voice in your mind, in your heart. It will be the day you never forget and the words you will forever despise, the words that will always take you down, because this was the moment you will forever trace your weary fingers backwards to discover over and over again to be the beginning of the end.

All I can offer you right now right here is this song I heard while taking the long way home tonight.

Just Breathe
- Pearl Jam

Yes I understand that every life must end
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go
I’m a lucky man to count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Others they got none

Stay with me
Let’s just breathe

Practiced are my sins
Never gonna let me win
Under everything, just another human being
Yeah, I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world
To make me bleed

Stay with me
You’re all I see

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t, now I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
As I come clean

I wonder everyday as I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t now I’m a fool you see
No one know this more than me
As I come clean

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me till I die
Meet you on the other side

Smallest room in the house

When I bought my new house, I was delighted with the interior colors as they were, with two exceptions.  One was the guest room that was used as a nursery, with adorable lions and monkeys painted on the walls.  I didn't need that scenario, so I opted for a creamy yellow that matched the bed linens I had for that room. 

The other exception was the powder room.  It was lime green and for the life of me, when the rest of the interior colors are natural, muted tones, I cannot figure out why the little room was painted lime green.  This room is tiny, about four and a half feet by four feet.  The lime green was overwhelming. 

I decided that gray would be a good color for the room.  The trouble I discovered is that gray has undertones of blue and green in it, depending on the lighting and the shade of gray.  The gray I selected, when painted over the lime green, became a nauseating gray-green combination.  Not a pretty color, trust me. 

Then I decided to go with a neutral, albeit boring, beige.  I mean, how exciting was I expecting my little powder room to be?  Once the walls were painted, however, the little room looked and felt like being inside a drawer.  The beige walls made it that much smaller and confining.  It simply would not work.

I had no idea what to do at this point, so I went to the paint store and selected four colors simply because I liked them, two blues and two gray-browns. I purchased the samples and painted swatches on three of the four walls, observing what the light did to them.  The earthiness of the brownish gray was appealing but the dark tones I had selected absorbed the light, again making me feel claustrophobic.

Oh boy, that was not a step in the right direction.  Now my little powder room had a boring base of beige and three walls with four big swatches of equally unacceptable color choices.

Then I hit the design magazines and I noticed a little something: broad horizontal stripes make small places appear larger.  Broad stripes? Could I do something so bold?  With the right colors, I thought, yes I can.

So again, I set off to the paint store.  I opted for two colors from Sherwin Williams' collection of whites, not a single one of which I would consider white, by the way.  Specifically, I chose their Downy and Modest White (which is the darker of the two).

At this point, my painter, bless his heart, was looking at my little powder room and no doubt thinking, Of course she wants stripes.  I also think that he was wondering how much of his life was going to be spent in this little room.  He had his doubts as to my idea, which he voiced, but I insisted.  And he painted the walls with the lighter color.  Then he painted them again.  And, yes, then again.  Ultimately, it took four coats because I had painted such big swatches of the darker colors, and they kept showing through until, finally, the fourth coat of paint. 

I think I should mention here that my painter's bank account was lving my indecision.

After several days to be sure the walls were dry, the painter set about taping the walls for the darker color stripes.  What I saw was 12-inch stripes, with the leftover being at the ground level.  What he saw was the enormous challenge of making the stripes perfectly straight.  At one point, there were three of us in that little room, each holding a level above penciled lines, and then taping along those lines.  Cozy?  You bet! 

When all was said and done, I was deliriously happy. My painter expressed his surprise at how nice the results were, and I beamed with renewed confidence.

Then I ran off to Pottery Barn and bought two floating shelves.  I had the idea that I wanted to present the pencil sketches and pen and ink drawings, and the like, that I've collected from various travel locations, all (thankfully) similarly framed although at no other time had I placed in single grouping.

The room is so small that I cannot take a full-on photo of it, and these photos look as if I've hung the shelves way too high, but these give you a good enough idea.

Tell me please, what do you think? 


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I'm sure that I'm the only one who cares

Last Saturday as I drove to the cabin, I listened to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 from the week of September 27, 1975.  I recalled most of the songs and happily sang along and reached to the radio to raise the volume a time or two. The journey back in time was perfect accompaniment as I drove along the familiar country roads.

I used to listen to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 with such excitement, back in the day.  I loved to guess the Top 10, and especially the top five.  My eyes would tear up with the Long Distance Dedications, and I enjoyed learning about the history of certain songs, hearing clips from the originals, or learning chart and artist trivia. 

I liked how he signed off each show with the same motto, Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.  That was a good message for a young girl to hear and be reminded to do each week.

As I listened the the countdown, I was surprised by how in the mid 70's, the music was so varied from one song to another, from 60's-styled teenage death songs to pure pop to glam rock.  The top four songs for the week of September 27, 1975 have nothing in common except for the fact that they were songs, and sung by men. 

4.  David Geddes, Run Joey Run
3.  Glenn Campbell, Rhinestone Cowboy
2.  David Bowie, Fame
1.  John Denver, I'm Sorry

That's an odd lot right there.  It speaks of a country in turmoil, a country without focus, a country reeling from Watergate, of not knowing what to or how to separate from the 60s, of an attempted assassination on then President Ford, and it speaks to the wholesomeness of our dreams, of holding on yet wanting to make right.  Lastly, it speaks to the at the time every-growing British invasion. 

So, yeah, a little drive to the cabin and I'm recalling a decade from my childhood.  Musically, that decade was a doozie.

Monday, October 04, 2010

An overdue welcome

Hello October! What took you so long to get here?  I know I know, the excruciatingly hot and sloth-like months of June and July wouldn't drag their behinds at a reasonable pace, and then Septemeber couldn't make up her mind whether she wanted to stay or go, but look at you, here you are.  I couldn't be happier to welcome you back.

I cherish how you remind me each year that it's the simple things in life that are the best, the little things that are big.  Just this past weekend at the cabin, I walked Cheyenne in the early morning hours of your sunrise.  There was a chill in the air and I wrapped my arms around myself, closed me eyes and took a slow and deep breath.  How wonderful your air felt in my lungs, your breeze on my cheeks.  I smiled as I recalled that soon I will hear the unforgettable cries of the snow geese on their way to warmer places, I'll see long check marks in the sky and I'll recall my father with such tenderness.  I smiled at the ever so slight browning of the leaves of the trees at the edge of the woods.

When you bring on the first full month on Autumn, I thrill at the changes I begin to observe in nature.  I delight in the browns and golds, the orange and reds, how each of nature's colors seems to become deeper in itself.  Like the colors, you always seem to bring me deeper in myself as well.  It's because your cool air allows me to spend more time out of doors, among the sounds of the wind in the trees, my bare feet in the grass, out amongst the busy squirrels and twittering birds, to hear sounds that are not made by man.  It is also because I habitually slow down in October, take more time to align myself with what gives me a sense of peace and grounding.  I take the long road home, wind myself through new streets on my morning walk, sit on the porch and watch the day's light give way to night. 

I heard an old song over the weekend, and the lyrics, Talk to God and listen to the casual reply.  October, you are those lyrics to me. You are God's casual reply.  You  give me a reminder to pause, to stand on the edge of the woods, be still for a moment, and simply take a deep breath. 

Welcome back my friend, welcome back.